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Chapter 9

  • If we could but get a peep at the tally of Dame Fortune, where like a vigilan_andlady she chalks up the debtor and creditor accounts of thoughtles_ortals, we should find that every good is checked off by an evil; and tha_owever we may apparently revel scot-free for a season, the time will com_hen we must ruefully pay off the reckoning. Fortune, in fact, is a pestilen_hrew, and, withal, an inexorable creditor; and though for a time she may b_ll smiles and courtesies, and indulge us in long credits, yet sooner or late_he brings up her arrears with a vengeance, and washes out her scores with ou_ears. "Since," says good old Boethius, "no man can retain her at hi_leasure, what are her favors but sure prognostications of approaching troubl_nd calamity?"
  • This is the fundamental maxim of that sage school of philosophers, th_roakers, who esteem it true wisdom to doubt and despond when other me_ejoice, well knowing that happiness is at best but transient; that the highe_ne is elevated on the see-saw balance of fortune, the lower must be hi_ubsequent depression; that he who is on the uppermost round of a ladder ha_ost to suffer from a fall, while he who is at the bottom runs very littl_isk of breaking his neck by tumbling to the top.
  • Philosophical readers of this stamp must have doubtless indulged in disma_orebodings all through the tranquil reign of Walter the Doubter, an_onsidered it what Dutch seamen call a weather-breeder. They will not b_urprised, therefore, that the foul weather which gathered during his day_hould now be rattling from all quarters on the head of William the Testy.
  • The origin of some of these troubles may be traced quite back to th_iscoveries and annexations of Hans Reinier Oothout, the explorer, and Wynan_en Breeches, the land-measurer, made in the twilight days of Oloffe th_reamer, by which the territories of the Nieuw Nederlandts were carried far t_he south, to Delaware River and parts beyond. The consequence was man_isputes and brawls with the Indians, which now and then reached the drows_ars of Walter the Doubter and his council, like the muttering of distan_hunder from behind the mountains, without, however, disturbing their repose.
  • It was not till the time of William the Testy that the thunderbolt reached th_anhattoes. While the little governor was diligently protecting his easter_oundaries from the Yankees, word was brought him of the irruption of _agrant colony of Swedes in the South, who had landed on the banks of th_elaware, and displayed the banner of that redoubtable virago Queen Christina,
  • and taken possession of the country in her name. These had been guided i_heir expedition by one Peter Minuits or Minnewits, a renegade Dutchman,
  • formerly in the service of their High Mightinesses; but who now declare_imself governor of all the surrounding country, to which was given the nam_f the province of New Sweden.
  • It is an old saying, that "a little pot is soon hot," which was the case wit_illiam the Testy. Being a little man, he was soon in a passion, and once in _assion he soon boiled over. Summoning his council on the receipt of thi_ews, he belabored the Swedes in the longest speech that had been heard in th_olony since the wordy warfare of Ten Breeches and Tough Breeches. Having thu_aken off the fire-edge of his valor, he resorted to his favorite measure o_roclamation, and despatched a document of the kind, ordering the renegad_innewits and his gang of Swedish vagabonds to leave the country immediately,
  • under pain of vengeance of their High Mightinesses the Lords States General,
  • and of the potentates of the Manhattoes.
  • This strong measure was not a whit more effectual than its predecessors whic_ad been thundered against the Yankees, and William Kieft was preparing t_ollow it up with something still more formidable, when he receive_ntelligence of other invaders on his southern frontier, who had take_ossession of the banks of the Schuylkill, and built a fort there. They wer_epresented as a gigantic, gunpowder race of men, exceedingly expert a_oxing, biting, gouging, and other branches of the rough-and-tumble mode o_arfare, which they had learned from their prototypes and cousins-german th_irginians, to whom they have ever borne considerable resemblance. Like them,
  • too, they were great roisterers, much given to revel on hoe-cake and bacon,
  • mint-julep and apple toddy; whence their newly formed colony had alread_cquired the name of Merryland, which, with a slight modification, it retain_o the present day.
  • In fact, the Merrylanders and their cousins, the Virginians, were represente_o William Kieft as offsets from the same original stock as his bitter enemie_he Yanokie, or Yankee, tribes of the east; having both come over to thi_ountry for the liberty of conscience, or, in other words, to live as the_leased; the Yankees taking to praying and money-making and convertin_uakers, and the Southerners to horse-racing and cock-fighting and breedin_egroes.
  • Against these new invaders Wilhelmus Kieft immediately despatched a nava_rmament of two sloops and thirty men, under Jan Jansen Alpendam, who wa_rmed to the very teeth with one of the little governor's most powerfu_peeches, written in vigorous Low Dutch.
  • Admiral Alpendam arrived without accident in the Schuylkill, and came upon th_nemy just as they were engaged in a great "barbecue," a king of festivity o_arouse much practised in Merryland. Opening upon them with the speech o_illiam the Testy, he denounced them as a pack of lazy, canting, julep-
  • tippling, cock-fighting, horse-racing, slave-driving, tavern-haunting,
  • Sabbath-breaking, mulatto-breeding upstarts: and concluded by ordering them t_vacuate the country immediately; to which they laconically replied in plai_nglish, "They'd see him d——d first!"
  • Now this was a reply on which neither Jan Jansen Alpendam nor Wilhelmus Kief_ad made any calculation. Finding himself, therefore, totally unprepared t_nswer so terrible a rebuff with suitable hostility, the admiral concluded hi_isest course would be to return home and report progress. He accordingl_teered his course back to New Amsterdam, where he arrived safe, havin_ccomplished this hazardous enterprise at small expense of treasure, and n_oss of life. His saving policy gained him the universal appellation of th_avior of his Country, and his services were suitably rewarded by a shingl_onument, erected by subscription on the top of Flattenbarrack Hill, where i_mmortalized his name for three whole years, when it fell to pieces and wa_urnt for firewood.